Spring ceremony in Eourres

Eourres is an alernativ village of about 140 inhabitants at about 1000 m high in the South of France. It was first occupied by a community in the 70’s with brought back the old ruines to live. Now the village is very dynamic with his communal kitchen, car-sharing board, alternativ bar and ornganic foodshop. I spend one week-end in this amazing village to visit Thierry, a friend who follows there a 6 months-course on autonomy based on eco-construction, veggies and fruits growing and organized by the association “Sens et Autonomie”. After a festive evening to welcome spring in the valley, we spend Sunday baking bread and cooking pizza in the communal wodden oven.

The life in Eourres isn’t a collective as in Longomaï: everybody has its own house, the meals aren’t shared and the exchanges stay often financial. Nevertheless, mutual assistance is very developped and cultural activites at free price are very frequents. The central point of the village is the city hall where all the inhabitants gather once a month to take all the decisions, but also the wood oven for the pizza evening, the communal room where various events are organized and the communal billboard where people get informed about the village life.

The village gets most incomes from eco-tourism and proposes many tringins. For example, l’Oserai du Possible offers basket-making classes . Organic agricultors and growers, as well as a baker, offers quality products to the inhabitants. Nevertheless, only one vegetable growers provides the village, and she will soon get retired. The village also hosts a Steiner school for nursery and primary school.

Here are a few pictures (just click on the picture):

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The assocation “Par Nature” introduces me to ecological teaching

I spent one week as a trainee in Aurore’s gardens. She created the association “Par Nature” in 2007 near Autun in the middle of France. Her main purpose is to raise public awarness about the environment, to enable children to discover natural gardening and reproduce old varities of tomatoes.

It all started with the creation of a small educational garden which welcomed a few seasonal events around the year. A group of volonteers emerged and straw elevated mounds welcome new cultures according to the permaculture principles.  Then animals arrived: chicken, ducks, gooses, guinea fowls,partridge, pheasants,turkeys, goats, sheeps and even bees joined the team. The place isn’t big but biodiversity is present !

Nowadays, various aromatic plants, eadible flowers, berries and old veggies are growing in 2 different gardens. 40 volonteers are helping with the gardening and the organization of vents around the gardens. Moreover, 200 members are getting healthy and local vegetables from the gardens. Many kids are also visitng the gardens and are taking part the workshops. Aurore, the only paid employee of the association, is very busy. Fortunately a few wwoofers are helping her from time to time.

I spend one week seeding leef and roots vegetables, trying to respect the lunar cycle. I also cleaned the greenhouses and installed a hot greenhouse thanks to cow dung. I even follow Aurore in schools to learn about ecological teaching…

Here are some pictures (just click on the pitcure):

And if you want to do some woofing with Aurore et Bruno, you can directly contact them by filling this questionnary :

Notre-Dame des Landes: a place to defend (ZAD)

Notre-Dame des Landes has become very famous in France because many people illegally settle on this land to avoid the construction of a new airport near Nantes. They consider the poject totally unecessary and very expensive and also not ecological at all. So to protect the land, they decided to occupied it in 2008. So since many years they are fighting against to law and the police in hard conditions (cold, rain, mud) but they are still very engaged and motivated  ! As I was curious to discover this place, I went there for a few days  in November 2014…

I arrived by hitch-hiking with a very good friends. The last kilometers were the hardest, as if the local resident didn’t agree on the resistance, as it was clear we were going in the occupied area… Finaly, a car full of alcool and dogs took us to the “free zone”. We crossed many barricades on the way, made of all kind of weird things to arrive in the middle of a few caravanes.

The place is a lot wider than I immagines. Dozens of collectives settled in different part of the land in house often build in emergency with wooden palets. “La Chateigne” welcomed the visitors for a long long time, but now it looks like a gost city. So we ended up in “Youpi Youpi” who was inhabited at that time by migrants waiting to be able to reach England. They welcomed us with a warm tea and offered us a place to sleep near the wooden stove. The house wasn’t big but smartly built with recycled materials. It was one-storey house with a brandly new veranda, beautiful !

During 2 days, we went around the “free zone” to meet its inhabitants. We discovered various collectives and individuals: a young man with his dog living in a tree tour, a farm producing cheese, a bog collectiv producing bread for the whole zone, many community gardens, a flotting house… Many agricultural, cultural and political activities are organized avery week and advertize through a local newspaper. Every week, a non-market enable the inhabitants to get fruits, veggies, bread and cheese at a free price.

The tensions with the police are far away at the begining of this winter, but the battle isn’t over. Thestay positiv, the inhabitants are trying to imagine what could emerge on the land, if they won… The collectiv “Sème ta ZAD”, among others, invited various other collectivs to talk and think together about what could this “free zone” become in the futur. But the situation isn’t simple as some lands still belongs to agricultors, and some other agricultors would like to get back their land, and all the actual inhabitants of the free zone have very various ideas and visions of the place… For now, their are just trying to survive in the mud by isolating their houses as well as they can as the cold winter is coming.

And here are some picutres (just click on the picture):

Collet farm: an energetically sober community

I follow a training on “how to grow organic spirulina” in the Collet Farm in the South of France. It was a very good occasion to discover this small community of 8 people who settle in 2011 on a land of 24 hectares.

The farm is a place to experiment how to acheive food and energy autonomy by following the “agroecologie” principle (close to permaculture). The land has been divided in parcelles between the different families, who founded an association called “Ecoagir ensemble” (acting ecologicaly together) following very precises rules… For exemple, they refuse the use of unecesseary machinery in the every day life anf also in the fields and gardens. As a resulte, Kathia and Bertrand are washing their closes with a bike-wasing-machine they constructed themselves since several years. They use solar energy for light and a mass wood heater to heat their whole house. Even the paddle wheels used in the spirulina ponds are using solar energy !

Each family has her own house, her own garden and her own source of income. They don’t share meals together. For example, françoise and Diego get specilized in the production of cereales over 1 hectare of land to produce and sell their own bread. They adapted a little the rules of the assocation as they use tractors on their field…

Nevertheless, some garden and orchads are managed together and once a week, the families work together to take care of them. Collective gathering and dicussion also happen about 2 to 4 time a weeks to talk about practical questions as weel as social and relational ones using a non-violent communication.

I spent a few days with Katia and Bertrand who a growing spirulina and selling goat cheese. They are eating only raw food following their instinct, meaning they don’t transform the food and eat a lot of wild plants. The food is not only not cooked, it is also not mixed with other food to keep its natural flavor, so our instinct can really recognize what is good for our body… (so very far away from the raw food cook I met in Turkey).

And here are some pictures (just click on the picture):

Longomai: when political activism leads to the fields…

I arrived in Longomai for just a few days and I ended up living there for month because it is the perfect place to learn how to live in a community and be more autonomous…

It is really hard to sum up what is Longomai in a few words. It is a unique place because of its age, the large number of people living there, their way of living and of course its history of political and social activism… They don’t like to be called an ecovillage, or a farm, or even a community, as they feel to be a commune, fighting for social rights since 40 years…

Longomaï has been created by French, German, Austrian and Swiss activists who wanted to put their idealism into practice. They left their towns to settle on a 250 hectares land in a desertified region. Beginnings have been very hard, living in a very small old house, in the cold and without enough to eat… Step by step, they learnt about farming while they also animated a free radio, helped migrants and fought for the local school to stay open. Often criticized by the press, accused to be a sect or the host illegal migrants, they successfully resisted until nowadays.

Today about 120 people are living in three beautiful stone farms and numerous eco-constructions (yurt, caravans, woodhouse…). A network of smaller farms also emerged around the first place, specialized in specific fields (whole clothes, wood harvest, wine making…). In total, about 200 people are living sharing the same ideals in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and even Ukraine and Costa Rica…

Everything is shared : meals, work, money and parties. Thanks to generous supporters from Switzerland, Longomai can afford to continue its social fight while hosting friends from other communes or visitors seeking alternative ways of living… So here is a brief presentation of Longomaï, but there is so much more to say… in a next post 

Click here ot see some pictures:

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Terre rouge: hosting at the end of the world

In the south of France, near Die, at the far end of a mountain path, you will find a magic place called Terre Rouge. It is a vast stone house with some other stone buildings waiting to be renovated, surrounded by forests, gardens, fruit trees and a few chicken and donkeys.
Gilles and his daughter Luna are living there since 16 years. Since 6 months, Aurore and Joseph joined them with their new born Isaïe. Even if the place is isolated, it is always full of visitors. People in holidays can rent some rooms to enjoy the mountains, whereas many woofers are helping with the garden, the cooking, the care of Isaïe or the construction of a wonderful yurt. Friends of all ages are also passing by to enjoy a great evening around the fire, a nice Moroccan couscous or a bath in the river nearby. Even the neighbor often brings his goats along with a good goat cheese or a few mushrooms. He likes to give advices from another age: “if everybody use to eat neetle regularly, we could close one pharmacy out of three !”.
The place is full of life with his long table full of visitors joyfully talking under the peer trees while the chicken are eating the rooted fruits on the floor… Each visitor brings his own energy and his creative ideas. It makes the place very rich, even if some cohabitations are sometimes a little tensed…

And here are the pictures:

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A little lost paradise

After climbing a very lost mountain path, you can reach the little lost paradise of Damien. It is a place out of time. Seeds are germinating on the large stone table, while blackberries and peepers necklaces are drying under the sun and a wild plants soup is cooking over a wood fire…

Living in a small sheep barn and an old chestnuts dryer, Damien started some veggies gardens, planted dozens of hazel trees, installed a small solar panel and built a very natural shower and kitchen. And he still got many ideas in mind, as building a medicinal bath and a meditation place…

It is the perfect place to step back from the consumption world, and recharge his batteries by fasting, meditating or walking around in the forest… The place is charged with lots of energy and the surrounding areas is full of surprises (lost village, beautiful waterfalls, lots of blackberries, mushrooms and chestnuts to pick…).

To see some pictures, just click on the picture below:

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